Urawa Reds opened a six point gap at the top of the J-League, courtesy of a 1-0 home victory over Yokohama F. Marinos. A crowd of 52,582 braved wet conditions at Saitama Stadium to witness Urawa record their twentieth win of the season. Midfielder Nobuhisa Yamada scored the vital goal for the Reds.
Any hopes Gamba Osaka had of maintaining pressure on Urawa were dashed by a 3-1 loss on the road to Kashima. Despite opening the scoring through Brazilian ace Magno Alves, a Satori Yamaguchi own goal and strikes from Yuzo Tashiro and Takyua Nozawa saw Gamba plunge to another defeat.
The Tama derby between FC Toto Sgp Tokyo and Kawasaki Frontale is always a hotly contested affair, however few could have predicted the drama that unfolded at Ajinomoto Stadium. FC Tokyo fell behind 4-1 early in the second half but came back to win the match 5-4, to better their come-from-behind victory over Gamba Osaka two weeks ago. Brazilians Juninho and Marcao were both sent off for Kawasaki, before Yasuyuki Konno scored an incredible last minute winner for FC Tokyo, sparking wild celebrations amongst the capital city club’s vociferous fans.
At the foot of the table, Avispa Fukuoka and Cerezo Osaka continue to fight a two-way battle for the crucial relegation/promotion playoff place. Both clubs lost at the weekend but remain three points in front of bottom club Kyoto Purple Sanga – who drew 1-1 at home to lowly Ventforet Kofu.
In J2 results, Kashiwa Reysol maintained their automatic promotion hopes with a thrilling 4-3 victory over Vissel Kobe at Kobe Wing Stadium.
Kashiwa opened the scoring less than sixty seconds into the match through Tatsuya Suzuki. Kobe equalised through Kunie Kitamoto just before half-time, before Suzuki scored his second in the fiftieth minute.
Former Kobe midfielder Diego then heaped misery on the club that released him – scoring a third for Kashiwa in the fifty-sixth minute.
Kobe equalised again in the fifty-eighth, however Diego was determined to have the final say, scoring a dramatic winner just five minutes from time.
Elsewhere Yokohama FC lost 2-1 at home to Tokyo Verdy, while just over 18,000 fans turned up to watch Sagan Tosu beat Shonan Bellmare by the same score at home.
Yokohama lead the standings on 84 points, Vissel Kobe have 83 and Kashiwa Reysol are on 82 points. Tokushima Vortis prop up the J2 standings with 31 points from 45 games played.
Japan National Teams
Japan National Team
Coach Ivica Osim waited until the last minute to name his squad for the upcoming Asian Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Sapporo. Despite having already qualified for the finals, Japan are keen to avenge their loss to Saudi Arabia in Jeddah in September.
There are four newcomers – Kashima’s Takuya Nozawa, Keisuke Honda from Nagoya, Daiki Takamatsu of Oita Trinita and Ryoichi Maeda of Jubilo Iwata.
Japan will be missing tenacious Gamba Osaka midfielder Yasuhito Endo. Endo has a serious liver problem – which some media outlets have reported as hepatitis, and will miss the rest of the J-League season.
Japan under-20 National Team
For the sixth time in their history, the Japan under-20 National Team has lost the final of the Asian Youth Championships.
Japan were beaten 5-3 on penalties by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – who only qualified for the finals after Myanmar had pulled out of their qualifying playoff with the North Koreans.
Japan were rocked by an early DPR Korea goal through Ri Chul-myong in just the third minute. They responded with a goal to Sanfrecce Hiroshima midfielder Yosuke Kashiwagi, as the match finished 1-1 after extra-time.
DPR Korea goalkeeper Ju Kwang-min saved Oita Trinita’s Tsukasa Umesaki’s opening penalty, propelling the North Koreans to a 5-3 shoot-out victory.
JEF United seemed to be suffering a League Cup hangover, becoming the only J1 team to lose to a lower division opponent when they crashed 2-1 at home to J2 club Consadole Sapporo in midweek. Sapporo will play fellow northerners Albirex Niigata in Round 5.
Defeated League Cup finalists Kashima Antlers had no such trouble, thumping Honda FC 4-0 to advance to a fifth round clash with Nagoya Grampus Eight.